To many people around the country, the generous displays of poinsettia plants at garden centers, grocery stores, and shopping malls signify the official start of the holiday season. Those pops of red and beautiful leaf color do an incredible job of reminding us that the most wonderful time of the year has arrived!
Poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are such a popular holiday plant, in fact, that they’ve become a decor staple during the Christmas season in homes across the United States. You see them on dining tables, kitchen islands, and near fireplace mantels.
As pretty as they are, however, many people feel frustrated at how quickly these small shrubs wilt or die. Poinsettia care is not complex, but an important thing to know is that it is a tropical plant that grows in Mexico and Central America. This means our favorite colorful plants don’t naturally grow in cold climates and are not accustomed to living in lower temperatures.
Therefore, we need to mimic their natural habitat as best we can. Learning how to water poinsettias can go a long way in helping to extend their lifespan, especially since we’re trying to grow them in a colder nighttime temperature.
With a few simple poinsettia care tips, you can enjoy your red poinsettias (or yellow, white, or pink!) in full bloom for weeks on end! You’ll get to see those tiny yellow berry-like structures that rest in the middle of the flower buds
Good watering is essential to keeping these festive plants alive and thriving; the amount of water you give them directly affects how well they last and how beautiful they look.
Give your poinsettia flowers enough water and they’ll be much happier than if you over-water them or let their soil go dry for far too many days. Watering well is the best way to get the most out of those colorful bracts we all love and they may even last you into next year, depending on when you purchase them!
With proper care, you’ll be able to enjoy your potted poinsettia plant throughout the winter holidays, as long as you have a sunny spot in your home. This is the most popular plant for adding a festive flair to your home towards the end of the year, after all, so keep reading to learn how to properly water it!
How Often to Water Poinsettias
This is the most common question when it comes to poinsettias: how often do they need to be watered? This is a great question because the last thing you want to deal with is root rot that comes from giving your plant too much water (the fastest way to kill it!).
A general rule of thumb when it comes to watering poinsettias is to water them when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Check your plant for moisture every day to every few days for best results; this is a plant you don’t want to neglect.
Keep in mind that the dry, warm air from indoor heaters can strip the soil of moisture fairly quickly.
Don’t be intimidated though, as watering is pretty simple: if the surface of the soil feels dry, it’s time to break out your watering can and water your plant!
Always keep in mind that the soil should never ever be soggy. This Christmas flower appreciates well-draining soil and doesn’t like excess moisture or sitting in a pool of water. Your poinsettia pot should never be water-logged.
This is why good drainage is so important!
Your pot should have a drainage hole where excess water can drain each time you water it. If your pot does not have a drainage hole at the bottom, it’s best to poke one through, otherwise, you’ll soon start to notice things like root rot and leaf drop.
Another good way to know when it’s time to water poinsettias is by paying attention to the weight of the pot, which changes as the soil dries out.
The drier the soil gets, the lighter the pot will feel when you pick it up. A pot that still has a good weight to it probably has sufficient moisture in the soil. A pot that feels incredibly light means the soil has been stripped of most of its moisture.
Here’s another key thing to keep in mind: Poinsettias appreciate a short period of dry soil between waterings, just as succulents do! You want the soil to dry out a little before your next watering; don’t keep the soil dense at all times.
Usually, poinsettias will need to be watered every other day to every three days. So, expect to water about two to three times a week.
How to Water Poinsettias
Now that you know how often you should water this plant during the winter months, it’s time to quickly cover HOW to water it. It’s very straightforward!
You can do it two ways:
Fill your watering can and make sure to grab your pot and take it out of the decorative foil lining.
Water the soil directly, drenching it until you can see water spilling out of the pot from the drainage hole.
Then, let it sit for a few minutes before placing it back in the decorative foil.
If you don’t want to use a watering can, the kitchen skin will do! Simple place the plant in the sink and under the spout. Make sure to use light water pressure so as to not splash soil all over your kitchen sink!
Either way, always use room temperature water; cold water can shock this tropical plant, just like cold drafts and a cold window can (remember their naturally warm environment!
Things that Affect Watering Frequency
Many things can affect how often you need to water your poinsettia plant.
Your watering frequency will depend on a few factors such as the size of the pot you’re using, the temperature of the room it’s in, and whether it’s sitting in a sunny location or shady spot in your home.
The size of the plant also plays a big part. Smaller pots will need less water while larger plants in large pots will need more because they hold more soil. Since smaller pots hold less soil, they’ll dry out quicker meaning you’ll need to check the soil more frequently.
If your plant gets several hours of sunlight exposure and sits near a sunny window that lets in light, it will likely need to be water more frequently than if it were sitting in the shade, far from bright light.
Also, if you use your heater often in the winter, you’ll need to be more diligent about checking the moisture of the potting soil, as heaters can strip both water and humidity from indoor plants pretty quickly. Keep a close eye on the soil surface to make sure it doesn’t look to dry.
What to Avoid When Watering Poinsettia Plants
Just as there’s a proper way to water poinsettias, there are a few things you should avoid, too. Never water a poinsettia using ice cubes if you want to end up with a healthy plant. This advice goes for all house plants.
While you might think it’s an easy watering trick, it’s just not wise to give tropical plants icy cold water; it’s not in their nature to take in water at such low temperatures. Placing ice cubes on top of the soil can actually shock your plant and shocking a plant can result in things like premature loss of leaves.
Also, never let water pool at the bottom of the pot, especially if you’re still using the foil pot cover your plant came in. Remember to always take the foil off and let your pot drain for several minutes before placing it back on.
Now that we’ve covered how and when to water poinsettias, you should be well equipped for your beautiful plants this holiday season! Remember that your poinsettia needs to be in indirect sunlight, should be watered every few days, and always allow excess water to drain after each watering in order to keep it looking its best. Doing this will help you enjoy these popular plants inside your home during Christmas time. Good luck!